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Court: Cities can't prosecute people for sleeping on streets
Court Feed News | 2018/09/06 05:53
Cities can't prosecute people for sleeping on the streets if they have nowhere else to go because it amounts to cruel and unusual punishment, which is unconstitutional, a federal appeals court said Tuesday.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals sided with six homeless people from Boise, Idaho, who sued the city in 2009 over a local ordinance that banned sleeping in public spaces. The ruling could affect several other cities across the U.S. West that have similar laws.

It comes as many places across the West Coast are struggling with homelessness brought on by rising housing costs and income inequality.

When the Boise lawsuit was filed, attorneys for the homeless residents said as many as 4,500 people didn't have a place to sleep in Idaho's capital city and homeless shelters only had about 700 available beds or mats. The case bounced back and forth in the courts for years, and Boise modified its rules in 2014 to say homeless people couldn't be prosecuted for sleeping outside when shelters were full.

But that didn't solve the problem, the attorneys said, because Boise's shelters limit the number of days that homeless residents can stay. Two of the city's three shelters also require some form of religious participation for some programs, making those shelters unsuitable for people with different beliefs, the homeless residents said.

The three-judge panel for the 9th Circuit found that the shelter rules meant homeless people would still be at risk of prosecution even on days when beds were open. The judges also said the religious programming woven into some shelter programs was a problem.


German court mulls jail for some over Munich air pollution
Court Feed News | 2018/08/28 03:09
A German newspaper reports that judges are considering jailing senior Bavarian officials for failing to take action against air pollution in Munich, home to automaker BMW.

Daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung reported Monday that the southern German state's administrative court believes jailing officials may be the most effective way of forcing the Bavarian government to enforce emissions-cutting measures.

Munich topped the ranks of 65 German cities that exceeded levels of harmful particles last year. Bavarian officials have refused to impose measures in the state capital — such as limited bans on driving diesel vehicles — despite heavy fines.

According to the report, Bavarian judges want to seek legal guidance from the European Court of Justice on whether jailing officials — including state Environment Minister Marcel Huber and Governor Markus Soeder — would be permissible.


California high court rules for immigrant kids in visa fight
Court Feed News | 2018/08/17 20:05
The California Supreme Court on Thursday made it easier for some immigrant children who are abused or abandoned by a parent to seek a U.S. visa to avoid deportation in a ruling that advocates said would help thousands of children.

State judges cannot require that children drag an absentee parent living abroad into court in their visa application process, the justices said in a unanimous decision. Immigration rights advocates had warned that such a requirement would make it nearly impossible for the children to fight deportation. That's because courts in California cannot establish authority over a foreign citizen and the parent may want nothing to do with a child claiming abuse, and would refuse to participate in a court proceeding in the U.S., immigration groups said.

The ruling overturned a lower court decision. The California Supreme Court said it was sufficient to adequately notify the absent parent of the court proceedings, but that parent did not have to be a party to the case.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said in court documents that the case had implications for a "substantial portion" of the thousands of children who have fled to the U.S. from Central America and Mexico and settled in California. Kristen Jackson, an attorney for the plaintiff in the case, estimated the ruling would affect thousands of children.



Ugandan pop star, a government critic, faces military court
Court Feed News | 2018/08/15 20:05
A pop singer and prominent critic of Uganda's government was charged with unlawful possession of firearms and ammunition in a military court on Thursday for his alleged role in clashes in which the longtime president's motorcade was attacked by people throwing stones.

Lawmaker Kyagulanyi Ssentamu, whose stage name is Bobi Wine, was arrested in the northwestern town of Arua earlier this week. In a court session closed to reporters, he was remanded and will reappear on Aug. 23, the military said in a statement.

Ssentamu's wife insisted he doesn't know how to handle a weapon, and rights activists demanded his release. In a suburb of the capital, Kampala, small groups of his supporters took to the streets and burned tires in protest but police quickly dispersed them, national police spokesman Emilian Kayima said.

Three other lawmakers arrested alongside Ssentamu were charged earlier on Thursday with treason in a magistrates' court in the northern town of Gulu, where he was detained.

Many Ugandans expressed concern for Ssentamu's safety after Uganda's deputy prime minister told lawmakers he had been hospitalized in custody, without giving details.

The clashes broke out on Monday when Ssentamu and other politicians, including President Yoweri Museveni, were in Arua campaigning in a by-election to choose a lawmaker after the previous one was shot dead near Kampala in June.

Ssentamu's driver was shot dead in the clashes. The lawmaker later posted a picture of the dead man on Twitter, saying he had been killed by the police "thinking they've shot at me."

A group of lawmakers authorized by the parliamentary speaker to investigate the situation told reporters on Thursday that they had been unable to see the pop star.



Zimbabwe's opposition challenges election results in court
Court Feed News | 2018/08/13 23:41
Zimbabwe's main opposition party on Friday filed a legal challenge to the results of the country's first election without Robert Mugabe on the ballot, alleging "gross mathematical errors" and calling for a fresh vote or a declaration that their candidate Nelson Chamisa was the winner.

The filing brings more uncertainty to a country that had hoped the peaceful vote would begin a new era but has been rocked since then by scenes of military in the streets and opposition supporters harassed and beaten.

The court now has 14 days to rule, and Justice Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi said the inauguration, once planned for Sunday for President Emmerson Mnangagwa, is "on hold' until then.

Zimbabwe's main opposition party on Friday filed a legal challenge to the results of the country's first election without Robert Mugabe on the ballot, alleging "gross mathematical errors" and calling for a fresh vote or a declaration that their candidate Nelson Chamisa was the winner.

The filing brings more uncertainty to a country that had hoped the peaceful vote would begin a new era but has been rocked since then by scenes of military in the streets and opposition supporters harassed and beaten.

The court now has 14 days to rule, and Justice Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi said the inauguration, once planned for Sunday for President Emmerson Mnangagwa, is "on hold' until then.



Supreme Court examines Kentucky's medical review panels
Court Feed News | 2018/08/11 06:39
After Ezra Claycomb was born with severe brain damage and cerebral palsy, his mother considered filing a medical malpractice lawsuit. But in 2017, Kentucky's Republican-controlled legislature passed a law requiring all such lawsuits first be reviewed by a panel of doctors.

The law gave the panel nine months to issue an opinion on whether the lawsuit is frivolous — yet section 14 of Kentucky's Constitution says every person has access to the courts "without ... delay."

Claycomb's parents sued to block the new law, making Kentucky the latest state to have its medical review panels challenged in court.

A circuit judge agreed the law was unconstitutional. But Republican Gov. Matt Bevin appealed that decision to the state Supreme Court, which heard arguments Wednesday.

"This is a modern day version of the poll tax," said attorney J. Guthrie True, who represents Claycomb in a lawsuit he says has class action status to represent all patients. "This has one purpose, and that is to obstruct the courthouse door."

Matthew Kuhn, an attorney for the governor, said the state Constitution's ban on delaying access to the courts only applies to the court system itself. It does not apply to the legislature, which he says has the power to impose rules on the court system. He noted Kentucky has other laws that limit when people can file lawsuits. For example, heirs wanting to sue the executor of an estate must wait at least six months after the executor has been appointed before they can do so. Kuhn says that law has never been challenged.

Kuhn said the medical review process is helpful because it gets the two sides talking before a lawsuit is filed, which could jumpstart settlement discussions. It also makes sure both sides have all the evidence collected before they go to a judge.




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